Royal Ascot - At The Races

Royal Ascot Long Range Forecasts

    Ante-post expert Gary Nutting has selections and analysis online for the Wokingham and the Royal Hunt Cup plus two of Royal Ascot’s big Group 1 contests.

All selections are online

Published 15:00 6th June

ALPHA CENTAURI looks a solid pick for the Coronation Stakes on the assumption it doesn’t become an overly wet Royal Ascot.

Jessica Harrington’s filly is three from four on ground ranging from good to firm to yielding, her sole defeat under such conditions being her neck second to Different League in the Albany Stakes here last year.

That was still a cracking effort considering the winner is a confirmed sprinter, while Alpha Centauri has since proved this two-furlong longer trip is much more her cup of tea as befits her pedigree.

The grey bounced back from a couple of disappointing efforts on soft/heavy to win the Irish 1000 Guineas in good style, her long stride seen to maximum effect at the Curragh as she mowed down runaway leader Could It Be Love inside the final furlong.

That was on good ground and granted similar conditions here, another big performance can be expected from one who has the size, scope and breeding to go on improving.

The amount of daylight she put between herself and the runner-up in the last 100 yards was quite taking and this against-the-collar mile, again on a right-handed track, looks tailor-made for her.

It’s a similar situation ground-wise in the Gold Cup, in which STRADIVARIUS is fancied to have the legs of chief market rival Order Of St George unless conditions become too testing.

Successful in the Queen’s Vase over 1m6f here last season, John Gosden’s colt landed the Goodwood Cup next time (beating Gold Cup winner Big Orange) before dropping back in trip to finish a close third in an above-average renewal of the St Leger.

He couldn’t quite cope with Order Of St George and Torcedor on soft ground back up in trip for the Long Distance Cup on Champions’ Day but still put up an admirable performance to go down by half a length and the same to those older rivals.

Reported to have strengthened up over the winter, he hit the ground running in last month’s Yorkshire Cup, backed as if defeat was out of the question and scoring with plenty in hand.

Frankie Dettori said afterwards that his turn of foot gives him a ‘lethal’ edge in staying races, while his high cruising speed and relaxed way of racing affords him every chance of staying 2m4f, especially on decent ground.

Published 14:00 11th June

A couple of ‘refugees’ from last year’s Britannia Handicap appeal at big prices for the Royal Hunt Cup.

First up is TRICORN, who finished third on the favoured far side that day and has the size/scope to improve again - perhaps significantly - following a winter gelding operation.

John Gosden is one of the first trainers to look out for given his record here and looks to have brought the 4yo along with this target in mind given he ran as though in need of his reappearance in a traditionally hot handicap at the Guineas meeting.

His only subsequent run had a further stepping-stone appearance to it, Tricorn making eye-catching late headway into third behind rivals who were always likely to be better suited to the ever-softening ground at Nottingham.

Back on a quicker surface (weather forecast encouraging) and only 4lb higher than for his Britannia run (albeit dropped another pound since these weights were published), he’s decent value given his course-and-distance/meeting form.

MEDAHIM finished a further 11 places back in the 3yo cavalry charge 12 months ago, but that doesn’t tell the whole story as he was drawn on the wrong side and launched for home too early by Gregory Benoist.

In the circumstances it was still a fair effort and he showed his true colours next time in another classy mile handicap when scoring under a more restrained ride from Sean Levey at Newmarket’s July festival meeting.

Also gelded over the winter, Richard Hannon’s charge has dropped to within 4lb of his winning rating that day despite both runs this season offering plenty of encouragement.

They were 7f contests on softish ground - and he was unlucky in running at Goodwood last time - whereas a mile on quicker terrain should be more up his street, with Frankie Dettori likely to be in the plate this time as Al Shaqab’s number one man.

Published 17:20 12th June

John Gosden’s unbeaten Dreamfield could tear the Wokingham Handicap apart but he’s priced accordingly and makes the market for an each-way alternative.

The four-year-old was having only his third race when returning from a season’s absence to score on his handicap debut over course and distance last month.

That was in a Class 3 contest, so much more will be required here, but the form was boosted by the runner-up winning at Windsor next time and an 8lb rise almost certainly underestimates him.

On pedigree and profile - he’s from a top-class family and has started odds-on each time he’s set foot on a racecourse - he could improve loads more than that, as befits a lightly raced colt who also holds Group 1 entries.

A general quote of 4-1 makes no appeal though - certainly at this stage - and better value can be found further down the lists, with VICTORY ANGEL appealing as one with the scope to prove a fair bit better than his current handicap mark.

Roger Varian’s colt was fast-tracked into the Commonwealth Cup after winning a Newmarket handicap on his reappearance last year, his 66-1 SP suggesting it may not have been the trainer’s choice to aim so high so soon.

The combination of a poor draw and experiment with headgear did for him at Newmarket next time (won by stablemate Ekhtiyaar) before he got back on track dropped significantly in class at Yarmouth.

The ground had gone against him by the time he signed off for the season at Ascot but he reaffirmed his potential for high-class handicaps when finishing fast and late into fourth behind Gifted Master at the Guineas meeting.

Doing best of those held up in rear, he should be sharper for that run and looks just the type to relish weaving his way through a big field off a strong pace.